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601 Habano Robusto

09 Apr

I have long lived by the Sasquatchism, “Never smoke a Robusto when you should be smoking a Churchill.” Of the classic cigar shapes, the Robusto is probably my least favorite. I recognize that there’s a time and place for a compact cigar, but more often than not, a Robusto only arouses my appetite, without bedding it back down again. So when I’m going small, it’s generally due to time constraints, and in such cases, I’m more likely to pull a Corona than a Robusto.

There are, however, those who argue that a Robusto is the purest expression of a cigar blend. The larger ring gauge (relative to a Corona) allows the blender the pack the full compliment of leaves into the cigar, while the 5-inch Robusto length allows the cigar to burn out before becoming saturated with tars, causing the flavor to turn. So you get all of the steak, with none of the gristle. And I can agree with that assessment, as well.

Photo of 601 Habano Robusto

601 Habano Robusto (5x50)

In this case, I should be smoking a Toro. That’s what I ordered. When it came off the truck, the retailer’s label even said “Toro.” But as you can see from the photo, this is clearly not a Toro (ah, the risks of internet commerce, and the beauty of B+M). Well, I called the customer service number, and after checking my (extensive) purchase history, they gladly credited me for the Toro (which they were then out of) and told me to just keep the Robusto.

What a happy accident that was!

The 601 brand is an oft-overlooked line developed by José “Don Pepin” Garcia. If you don’t know his name yet, get your head out of the Montecristos and pay attention. This Cuban émigré first proved himself on the rolling floor. In fact, some say that even today, he’s the best cigar roller in the world. Well, he’s one hell of a blender too, and the list of brands to his credit is long and distinguished. Which, as it turns out, is exactly how I like my cigars.

The 601 Habano line of Nicaraguan Puros features a robust blend of well-aged longfillers, and a beautiful, chestnut-colored Habano capa (the brand also offers a Connecticut, Maduro, and Habano Oscuro). The Habano wrapper is slick with oils, and is finished in Don Pepin’s signature Cuban-style triple cap, which in this case is perfectly applied. The cigar is seamlessly rolled, supple and slightly yielding, with a juicy texture.

The first impressions of flavor are tangy, earthy and leathery. It’s rich, but delightfully smooth, with a round tobacco flavor and subtle taste of dark chocolate. The draw is open (1) from a cap cut, producing a hearty smoke volume (2) of slightly more than average strength (3).

In the second half, the flavors open up to show a luscious fruit quality, with subtle sweetness, under a heavy dose of rich leather and earth. The burn is ring-straight, and the ash is pure white and nicely scaled, if somewhat short, with well-formed cones. By the end, the flavors become richer and fuller, but only just so; it develops a toasted palate, with a distinct layer of coffee bean and a caramelized sweetness after a 45 minute smoke to an inch and a half nub.

I am pleased to rate this cigar 9.0. It is delightfully rich in flavors, while remaining smooth and balanced. The cigar is billed as full-bodied, but I found the Robusto to be quite approachable, more moderate than strong, though I would expect the larger vitolas to be considerably more potent.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here, perhaps it’s that stepping outside of our usual practices, even if doing so unintentionally, can occasionally yield positive results. Or it could just be the case that great tobacco perfectly blended and expertly rolled makes for outstanding cigars, regardless of the size. Maybe that’s what they mean when they say size doesn’t matter.

Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”

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1 Comment

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  1. tpaul

    April 10, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    Well said, sir. You have my attention.